Wadjda 2012

Critics score:
99 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: The most radical and cheering message of Wadjda is that a change isn't just possible, but inevitable. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: With impressive agility, "Wadjda" finds room to maneuver between harsh realism and a more hopeful kind of storytelling. Read more

Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post: What makes the movie so delightful is that Wadjda isn't trying to make trouble; she's just being herself. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: "Wadjda" earns extra points just for being what it is. Who knew that, in a country that famously frowns on women driving cars, some are even allowed to make movies? Read more

Jay Weissberg, Variety: A winning, handsomely crafted story with a charismatic lead guaranteed to charm international auds. Read more

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club: What keeps Wadjda from devolving into a sort of heavy-handed cultural show-and-tell is its title character. Read more

Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic: "Wadjda" is a terrific film. Read more

Peter Keough, Boston Globe: More than a critique of Saudi society, "Wadjda" offers a character with universal resonance and appeal. Read more

Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader: Though writer-director Haifaa Al-Mansour doesn't break new ground aesthetically, she relates the experience of a Saudi Arabian girl's coming of age clearly and unsentimentally, which alone makes this a must-see. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "Wadjda" works quietly and well in its story of a young protagonist questioning the restrictive status quo. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: In Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour's winsome wonder Wadjda, a young girl's aspirations provide an intimate glimpse into the possibilities and limitations of a cloaked culture. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: A sweet little film about the human spirit, about want and energy and determination against unfair odds. Read more

Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com: The film is deserving of its position as a pioneer. It's a heartfelt, touching peek into the day-to-day life of a culture Westerners rarely get to see. Read more

Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter: The first feature ever shot in Saudi Arabia is a winner directed by a woman, Haifaa Al Mansour. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Drawbacks and all, it's heartening to have "Wadjda" around. Read more

John Anderson, Newsday: Al-Mansour seems out to make a movie that works in America. Which is likely a savvy move, since it seems unlikely she's going to get much traction back home. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: This is not just the first feature by Haifaa Al Mansour but the first feature to be directed by a woman from Saudi Arabia. That is quite a burden, and yet by some miracle the movie bears it with lightness and grace. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Cleanly shot, concisely edited, "Wadjda" is a film that parents and smart children could enjoy together; its heroine is both immediately a type (yes, they roll their eyes in Saudi Arabia, too) and a very specific character. Read more

Mark Jenkins, NPR: This quiet film could become something of a cultural thunderclap. Read more

Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News: This resonant film, detailing struggles in a far-flung place, represents world cinema in the classic sense. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: Wadjda is a movie about freedom - and nothing represents freedom with the metaphoric simplicity and symmetry of a bicycle. Read more

Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle: A simple story told with economy, "Wadjda" is a notable example of old-school, humanistic filmmaking. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: It's a stunningly assured debut, a slyly subversive delight, and one of my favorite movies of the year so far. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: An unqualified delight, a sharp, insightful comedy that subversively explores women's place in Islamic society. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: This delightful debut feature by a Saudi woman named Haifaa Al-Mansour uses a bicycle as a metaphor for freedom within a social circumference. Read more

Bruce Ingram, Chicago Sun-Times: There's a lot more going on in this first feature film from Saudi Arabia, where movie theaters are banned, than the deceptively simple story of a girl who's willing to do just about anything to buy her first bicycle. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Wadjda captures Saudi life on the cusp of serious change, but it's by no means a solemn drama. Al-Mansour writes and directs with a light touch and hopeful aspect. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: There's lots of crowd-pleasing triumph at the end of Wadjda's gauntlet, but it's the implied tragedy of her future that cuts like a knife to the heart. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Wadjda is a winning and wonderfully moving tale of an endearing 10-year-old girl, living in a suburb of Riyadh, making her voice heard in a patriarchal society that seeks to silence her. Read more

Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice: A simple, solid, deeply affecting film, Wadjda is something rare: the work of a female Saudi filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour, and a feature from a country that has long outlawed cinemas. Read more